How to Raise A Selfish Child…

A dear friend of mine told me this morning that it’s truly impossible to shelter our children – she said, “My own sin did as much damage as anything in the world could have!”

I know she’s right. My sinful nature screams loudly and clearly a stark contrast to the Bible.

And I’ve seen my children’s natures emerge, too. More than halfway finished raising my brood, I still recall as though it were yesterday one single moment with each of them… that moment when they go from being innocent babies, viewing themselves as an extension of myself, to individuals with sinful natures and awareness of their own will.

One of my boys dumped a box of Legos® on the floor ten minutes before we needed to exit the house and get in the van to go somewhere. He was three. Defiant, arms crossed, he refused to pick them up. We never made it to our destination that morning.

My daughter, the last of my bunch, at 18 months old, looked at me directly in the eyes and said, “No.”

I remember being shocked and especially sad, because the last of my children now moved from the “pure enjoyment” stage of parenting to the “enjoyment, but with more attention to limitations and discipline.” With the discovery of her will, I could no longer trust her to do what I had asked. Granted, at 18 months old, I didn’t ask much. J

Helping my kids navigate life now as tweens and teens is a great privilege, and I love the interactions and relationships we have. I remember reading everything I could get my hands on when they were little, and implementing as much of it as I could. Not that things are perfect, but we are all very close, and that is worth every moment. The investments and hard choices when they were little are paying off.

I’m still reading about parenting, btw. J

When I was reading Proverbs 1 this morning, I was challenged by the “fear of the Lord” being the “beginning of wisdom.”

I must confess, when my kids were little, I’m not sure if I focused mainly on the “love” aspect of the Father, with enough attention to the need for reverence and fear of Him.

And sometimes, I still today forget that God is GOD.

I confess that I take His great love for me for granted, as I am assured of my salvation. Yes, I delight in serving Him, and it is what I want to do with my life, but honestly, I think I could do better.

The Bible tells us that even demons shudder and bow down – have we been out-reverenced by the likes of them?

So it is good to remember to hold Him in trembling awe. He IS the God who loves us, who sent Christ…and His character also includes a God who wiped the earth nearly clean in a flood, took the firstborn of the Egyptians, and caused plagues to rein on Pharaoh’s kingdom.

And He tells us to discipline our children, teach them His ways, and keep our own minds from foolishness and sin. But in this western culture of consumption, we are lousy at this. We’ll teach a doctrine of love, but forget the doctrine of reverence.

So in honor of that, this morning, I felt led to share the “Top Ten Things Parents Do to Create Selfish Pre-Schoolers.”

  1. Buy them everything they want.
  2. Don’t make them wait for things – teach them instant gratification.
  3. Don’t make them work, let them be waited on instead.
  4. Give them what they want when they whine, so they learn to do more of that.
  5. Reward temper tantrums with attention instead of ignoring them, teaching the little buggers how to manipulate.
  6. Be inconsistent with discipline so they don’t have the security of knowing what the rules are.
  7. Don’t deliver consequences when they do the wrong things so they learn it doesn’t matter if they obey or not.
  8. Keep encouraging words to yourself, instead of being their number one fans, they’re already too confident.
  9. Criticize often, so they stop trying and grow resentful of you.
  10. Don’t supervise their play dates so they are left to figure out social rules like sharing, being kind, etc.
  11. Expose them to information that older kids know so they grow up faster.
  12. Criticize your spouse in front of them, or let them hear you talk about him/her with your friends so they learn to be disrespectful.
  13. Talk about them as if they weren’t in the room with you friends or spouse, otherwise, they might learn respect.
  14. NEVER take the time to explain to them the “why’s” of what you do – just make them obey – otherwise they might think you actually value them as people (another respect issue).
  15. Let them have complete unsupervised and unlimited access to internet, games, tv, etc., so their little minds will be programmed by people whose values you don’t know anything about. (never mind all the research on how damaging it is for kids to watch tv and play video games… what do researchers know, anyway? – and besides, who has time to actually play with or interact with your kids? Why involve them in baking cookies, doing laundry, cleaning up, taking care of pets, etc.? They might develop a strong sense of value in your family!)
  16. And whatever you do, don’t constantly talk about God and never pray with them – they might actually come to know Him!
  17. And…don’t ever put your spouse ahead of them, otherwise they’ll know how valuable your marriage is!
  18. And… don’t resolve conflicts well as a family, otherwise they might be bold and brave in this world…they should get their identity from other people, not the Audience of One, right?
  19. Never apologize when you are wrong, they might learn humility.
  20. Teach them to lie – white ones don’t count anyway, right?
  21. Yell to get your point across so you teach them not to listen to you when you speak respectfully.

Okay, I really can count, although that’s not evidenced by the list.

Sorry for the sarcasm… J

I could go on for hours…and it’s been many years since I’ve had little people, but I do remember those days, fondly. My constant prayer was, “Lord, let me remember right now!! Don’t let me forget this moment…” often prayed with tears of appreciation in my eyes, and a heart filled with wonder at the unique and special little people He blessed us with.

And I remember being physically exhausted and worn out from the intensity of the mothering of little people.

Dare you to add a few tidbits of your advice for raising confident children with their own solid relationships with God…

While not an expert, I am 100% sure that if they can “catch” my and my husband’s faith, we’ve done our job as parents. So we work daily on growing our own faith, nurturing our relationship with the Father, and teaching as we go, doing life with them, considering them as real and precious to Him.

In line with the “reverence” theme, I remembered this verse today: Matthew 18:
5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin. Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come.

So what are you teaching today? Are you teaching your kids that divorce is okay? That walking away from God is alright? Or that it is fine to not work through conflict, being a doormat or a stream roller? Or to be angry and mean with your words?

Yeah, I know… ouch.

I wish I could take back a few of the lessons I’ve taught.

But, being as I am the poster child for the need for grace, I will ask you to join me, fellow sinners, in daily seeking repentance from the God who is GOD. J

Double dog dare you to “share” or add your own thoughts today.

So glad we’re on the journey together!

Love to you,


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6 thoughts on “How to Raise A Selfish Child…

  1. Number three and number eight are owning me. My terrific three year old is in exactly the phase you describe. The last four nights running have been tears and tantrums over every little thing. Lunchtime, bedtime, boundaries and sanity are being tested. I just want to scream and run away! My frustration levels are boiling and I’m just burnt. Good words of wisdom!

  2. Iam grateful that i have to join you and get both comments and new posts.
    i appreciate what i have learnt.

  3. Reblogged this on The Black Hole Of The Internet and commented:
    I know that any of you will children want to raise your child to be the best that they can be. These are great tips to use.

  4. *ouch* !!
    Putting myself as the offender in the Matthew scripture was really hard. However, like your friend, I know that my own sin has contributed to who they are becoming. My youngest is 7 and I know that I can still make a difference; but (and my throat swells closed as I fight the tears) my oldest will be 19 in 12 days and she is living a life of rebellion and sin. A life that I demonstrated in front of her just a few short (very formative) years back.
    I look at your list and I there are a lot of things that I did right, that I taught her by example but there are so many that I did wrong. “I wish I could take back a few lessons that I’ve taught” … yeah, that. 🙁
    Thanking God, yet again, that my sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb. Praying that He can turn around the mistakes that I made and make my children brand new in Him.

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